Actors We Miss is a weekly column that celebrates the career of a notable star who's passed off the scene. Look for it every Friday night.
As with any smart, modern-day helping of motorized mayhem, 'Drive Angry 3D,' which stars Nicolas Cage and opens wide today, pays tribute to the great car chase pictures in history. That includes the hill-jumping, fender-bending, pedestrian-frightening thrill ride through the streets of San Francisco in 'Bullitt'... and there any comparisons between the new (Cage) and the old (Steve McQueen) must stop."Punch it, baby!"
For one thing, McQueen did his own driving in 'Bullitt' and he was never angry. He was always cool under pressure; when he lost his temper on screen, it was apparent in the tightening of his facial features and the straightening of his posture. More often, he communicated disappointment with others or frustration with himself, rather then boiling anger. He exercised self-control; his emotions flowed most often from his eyes.
He cut a great, supremely focused, figure on two or four wheels, stealing away from Nazis in 'The Great Escape,' chasing killers in 'Bullitt,' enduring 24 hours in a race car in 'Le Mans,' riding motorcycles for sheer pleasure in 'On Any Sunday.' Even when he wasn't behind the wheel, he controlled the vehicle, as in 'The Getaway,' where, sitting in the passenger seat as his wife Ali MacGraw drives, urges her to "punch it, baby!" during a frenzied flight from the authorities.
After the jump: His early iconic roles; man in a three-piece suit; "forgotten" flicks; films with Sam Peckinpah; McQueen vs. Newman; the McQueen legacy; plus video clips!